I’m 31, Single, And In No Rush To Get Married – Here’s Why

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“You’re going to die alone with your cats.”

This is a line my charming former coworker Jon loves to throw at me every so often. He also went through a phase where he constantly called me ‘old’, so there’s that.

While that joke (which, to be fair, is made completely in jest) is supposed to imply that dying as an unmarried owner of cats is the worst possible fate that can happen to a woman, the reality is that it’s not. The truth is, I’d much rather die alone with my cats than die married, yet completely unfulfilled.

Before I go any further, I should clarify that I’m not implying that marriage in and of itself leads to this type of fate. However, all-too-often people – especially women – feel the pressure to “settle down” by a certain age. Unfortunately, this type of societal pressure causes many people to commit their lives to someone who isn’t the best match for them. I’ve almost been there, I’ve almost done that, and I have no desire to ever go through with that type of mistake.

When I was 20 years old, I almost got married. While we weren’t to the point of actually planning a wedding, he was saving for an engagement ring, and had given me a simple gold ring with tiny diamonds to wear in the mean time – he even went so far as to purchase a gold ring for himself to wear. While I hadn’t given an official “yes” to anything, we were definitely close enough to marriage to freak me out.

 

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On paper, everything would have probably seemed perfect to many people: we had been dating for six years – since we were practically children. We were each other’s first love, he was my best friend and he knew more about me than anyone on earth at that point in my life. He was there for me 100% after a tragedy that left me emotionally distraught and resulted in the worst few years of my life. Most guys would’ve ran at that point, but him? He drove me around for hours and just let me cry. He was there for me unconditionally. My family adored him, he would’ve been an amazing husband, and he probably would’ve given me the world if I’d asked for it. Yet despite all of these positives, I literally felt sick at the thought of marrying him.

To put it simply: I realized that if I stayed with him, I’d be sacrificing most of my dreams. I wouldn’t be true to myself if I went through with it.

Breaking up with him was one of the absolute worst things I’ve ever had to do – especially because I loved him dearly and it killed me to see him hurt. However, it was also one of the most significant decisions I’ve ever made in my lifetime. While I’ll never actually know what the future would have held for me – and for us – I can only assume that the last decade of my life would have been quite different if I hadn’t listened to my heart.

If I had met him at a different point in my life, I likely would have married him without hesitation. Unfortunately, I met him at a point in my life where I still had a lot of growing to do. And as I look back at everything I’ve been able to do and achieve in the last decade and compare it to the type of person I would’ve been if I’d married him, it’s staggering.

 

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I had married him, I likely would have never gone to college – instead, I’d probably remain a secretary at a boring, low-paying company located in a random suburban industrial park. I’d probably live somewhere like Plainfield or Aurora in a perfectly nice home. I’d probably have a few nice kids who I’d adore. I’d probably end up hanging on to 75 pounds or so of baby weight, but my husband would love me anyways because that’s the type of nice guy he was. And I’d probably secretly be completely fucking unhappy. Why? Because I wouldn’t have been true to myself.

Again, please don’t mistake what I’m saying. Everyone is on a different path in life and grows through different experiences. Everyone has different goals, dreams and things that make them happy and fulfilled in life – and for some women, being married and being a mother is their dream – and there is absolutely, positively, nothing wrong with that, because that’s what makes them happy. However, that’s not what would have made me happy. This doesn’t make me better or worse than anyone else – it just makes me who I am.

For me to truly grow as a person, I had to learn how to live my life alone and learn how to be independent. All my life, I had been someone’s other half. From the age four up until 14, I was completely attached at the hip to my best friend. From 14 to 20, I spent every spare moment with him. I had never just been me.

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In short, I had to be free to grow and evolve as a person without the influence of another person, without the fear of leaving someone else in the dust, or even worse – without being accused of “changing too much”. I had to learn how to be single and I had to have my heart broken. I had to follow my career goals, go to college, and go out and see the world. I had to be lonely until I learned to love my own company. I had to make plenty of mistakes and fuck a lot of things up, and I had learn how to survive and pick myself up again without the support of another person.

A little over one year ago, I had an experience that truly reinforced this. I was at my parents’ house going through old letters when I happened to stumble upon a sealed envelope that was addressed to me – in my own handwriting. After a few seconds of confusion, I recognized it as an assignment from a class I took my senior year of high school. It’s something most of us have been assigned to do once or twice throughout our school years: writing a letter to our future selves.

This letter in particular was addressed to my 28 year-old self. I wrote about everything I dreamed of accomplishing after I graduated high school – both personally and professionally. I clearly remember what I was feeling when writing this letter: I hoped I would accomplish all of these goals, but many of them seemed pretty unrealistic. As I read through the letter, I began tearing up. Over the last decade, I had managed to accomplish every single goal I had listed in that letter at age 18 – without even realizing it. 

All of the things on that list were things that I probably wouldn’t have been able to achieve if I’d made a different decision at age 20. If I’ve managed to accomplish so much in the last decade, I can’t even begin to fathom what life has in store for the next four or five decades. What I do know is this: I am in no way, shape or form going to rush something that I have the rest of my life to do, just for the sake of getting it done and over with. And I absolutely, positively won’t abide by some imaginary clock and marry the next guy I date that’s nice enough simply because other people may think  my life won’t be complete if I don’t.

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Do I want to get married and have kids? Yes, absolutely. Do I ever go through  moods where I feel like it would just be easier if I were paired up already? Of course. Do I catch myself falling prey to the Princess Complex every so often? Yup. However, at the end of the day, I’m in no rush to get married. I’m happy with being alone until I know for sure I’m ready and willing to commit my life to someone. After all, when you agree to marry someone, you’re agreeing to partner up with that individual for the rest of your life. Well, ideally, anyway.

Who knows – maybe I’ll meet an amazing person next week and be married by this time next year. Maybe I’ll get married at age 40. Maybe I’ll never get married at all, or maybe I’ll end up divorced.

What I do know is this: dying alone with my cats isn’t the worst thing that could happen to me, or any other woman for that matter. In reality, the worst thing that could happen to a woman is resigning herself to a life she doesn’t want to lead, simply because that’s what’s expected of her.

As the wise Cher Horowitz once said in response to a conversation about her lack of experience with men: “You see how picky I am about my shoes, and they only go on my feet!”

 

 

To the females reading this, remember: you are the one that has to live your life – don’t let anyone else on earth make you feel as if you need to live a certain way. Contrary to popular belief, we’re all on a different path in this lifetime, and not everyone’s journey can fit neatly into a “one size fits all” box. Maybe you want to get married and have kids at 18, or maybe you’d rather wait till you’re 35. Maybe you want to have five kids, and maybe you have no desire to have any. Maybe your preference is to never get married and enjoy your independence.

Whatever your wishes are, remember: they’re what’s right, because they’re what make you happy. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise.

 

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  • Anonymous

    I love this. So often people (mostly family members) ask about my love life with a look of sadness in their eyes when I tell them I’m still single. When I’ve dated men and have gotten into discussions about past relationships, most men are shocked to find out I’ve never been in a relationship longer than a year, and even more shocked that it’s been 3+ years since my last relationship. Is it so bad that I had bigger priorities in my early 20s than finding a life mate? That while yes, I date, I’m in no hurry to settle down with someone that would mean compromising on the things that are important to me? That I wanted to learn to be an independent adult before learning how to be a co-dependent one? That my goal after college was to start building a life that I wanted, professionally and personally, before bringing someone into that romantically? I’m eternally grateful for my independence and the life I’ve been able to build, SOLO, and will happily add a romantic partner to that mix… when I find the right one.

    • Good for you! It’s so, so important to know you’ve grown as a person and are in the position to truly be a partner before actually partnering up with someone for life.

      As for the reaction from others – I feel you on that, and it’s so frustrating. My family hasn’t reacted in that way, but my childhood best friend who I’ve known for 26 years acts as if I’m sitting here alone crying myself to sleep at night. It’s frustrating when someone that knows you so well can actually know you so little.

  • And whatever happened to the fiancé?

    • He got engaged roughly one year later to someone older who had kids already, got married soon after, and got divorced within one or two years.

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